Helen Anderson, RN, CLE

More is better: Skin-to-skin Immediately After Delivery and at Home

Skin to Skin Contact After DeliverySkin-to-skin contact is a great way to welcome your baby into the world; your baby's bare skin is against your bare skin. When researchers measured the stress level of newborn babies, they found the lowest level of stress in babies that spent the most time skin-to-skin with Mom (or Dad!). Research shows the best way to spend the first hour with your baby is against your bare chest; your baby should be wearing only a diaper. The highest stress levels were measured in babies that were separated from their moms in the nursery.

More skin-to-skin time is also associated with breastfeeding success. When your baby has easy access to breastfeeding, they will do it frequently, helping to establish a strong milk supply.

Newborn babies on mom's bare chest will often begin breastfeeding without any help. Check out this video of a newborn finding the nipple and latching unassisted. (Watch with the sound on to hear the giggling of an older sibling observing the journey to the nipple.)

As you prepare for labor and delivery, be sure to find out if your hospital offers skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery. And, if not, for the health of you and your baby, be sure to ask for it. And, once you are home and getting settled with your new baby, be sure to keep with the skin-to-skin contact. Whenever possible, feed your baby skin-to-skin. And, in between feedings, Dad can snuggle baby skin-to-skin.

Below is a short list of the benefits of skin-to-skin contact:

• Warmth, as you share your body heat

• Stability of heartbeat and breathing as your baby is more relaxed, feeling safe and comfortable.

• Increased time spent in the deep, restorative sleep that prepares your baby's body and mind to learn and grow.

• Increased time spent in the quiet alert phase, the observation time when your baby uses her senses to learn about the world.

• Less crying as your baby feels safe, warm and her needs are met

• Appropriate weight gain, as it helps ensure breastfeeding success